By Cameron Kell and Gage Taylor
For us here at KSPC listening to music is basically our job, but like a really fun job that’s super cool and rewarding because we get to find music we love and share it with as many people as we can. As the winter begins to wind down and spring enters the picture, we’ve got some great new and upcoming electronic releases that should get you up and ready for the approaching warmth.
Before we forge ahead into the New Year we’d be remiss not to mention a couple great releases that came out at the end of last year. Kelela recently moved to L.A. and released her debut mix tape Cut 4 Me in October on Kingdom’s Fade to Mind label. Featuring production from local musicians Nguzunguzu and Kingdom, Cut 4 Me is a disarmingly personal release that mixes deeply emotive lyrics and themes with a variety of electronic music styles. The tracks run the gamut from aggressive, hyped-up bangers like “Enemy” and “Bank Head” to devastating slow-burns like “Keep it Cool” and “Cherry Coffee,” and through it all Kelela displays a knack for being able to switch from strong, forceful vocals to a smooth falsetto, acrobatically moving between registers with impressive control. Better listen up now, because she’s here to stay.
We’re still jamming out to Guilt Trips, the debut solo album by Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth. He’s shown a pull towards general eclecticism over his currently short career but this release finds him a little more focused, both in terms of a general sonic aesthetic as well as in his songwriting. Songs like “Yaeko Mitamura Is Lonely” and “Ryan Must Be Destroyed” find a middle ground between the instrumentals of trap music and the spacier side of dubstep, and this combination appears in modified forms elsewhere on the album. Standout pop anthem “One For Me” is anchored by warm synths and a trap beat which allow for gorgeous, soaring vocals from L.A. singer Tinashe, while “Still Cold” begins as a drum-less plaintive ballad led by local musician Baths that eventually builds to a brief, restrained dub-ish outro. Ryan Hemsworth has shown that he’s able to hop easily and successfully between genres and styles, so stay tuned for what’s sure to be an impressive career.
And now time for some upcoming releases that we’re really stoked about. Darren Cunningham, aka Actress, has always been ambitious musically, from his first blunted beats on Hazyville to the highly lauded ambient techno workings of 2012′s R.I.P., but he’s taking it to another level with Ghettoville, his apparently final album under the moniker. With the announcement for the album declaring “R.I.P Music 2014,” he’s not playing around. As recently released non-album cut “Grey Over Blue” showed, his masterful control over bleak soundscapes has only become better with age. So if you’re looking for something to keep you warm during these final winter months, check out Ghettoville. The buzz is worth it.
Operating on a very different part of the electronic spectrum is newcomer Thomas Arsenault’s Mas Ysa project, who will be delivering his first EP, Worth, on Downtown Records next month. A staple in the Brooklyn live scene who’s already opened for acts like Purity Ring and Deerhunter, he’s developed quite the reputation for working at the odd intersection between synthpop, ambient, punk, and more. His first track “Why” blew up the internet when it was released last fall, and for good reason. As he yelps for everything he’s worth over synth tones fit for The Breakfast Club, you get the sense that this guy will be an incredible headliner before the year is through.
Finally, if you’re just looking to dance, make sure to check out MORRI$’s Debut when he self-releases it in February. He’s been involved with various parts of the underground electronic scene for years, having produced for Le1f and released tracks on the highly esteemed UK label Night Slugs, as well as contributing to Kelela’s debut. Expect this release to bang. Hard.